Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons Second Report


The Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons has agreed to the following Report:




    (a)  We recommend that the Board of Management prepare a revised line of route which would include a facility for conducted tours to see the Commons in session, in a manner which avoided disruption to the Chamber (paragraph 20).

    (b)  We recommend that in the event of an 11.30 am start to the Commons day, the line of route should be open from 9.00 am to 10.30 am from Tuesday to Thursday (paragraph 21).

    (c)  We recommend that the House of Commons Commission should pursue their consideration of opening the line of route on a Saturday to a favourable conclusion (paragraph 22).

    (d)  We recommend that Select Committees and other parliamentary bodies step up their use of ICT to increase e-participation by the public in the parliamentary process (paragraph 24).


    (e)  We recommend that the Government continue to increase with each Session the proportion of Bills published in draft (paragraph 32).

    (f)  We recommend that where it is not possible to produce a complete legal text the Government should submit proposals for pre-legislative scrutiny on the basis of a detailed statement of policy (paragraph 34).

    (g)  We recommend that Standing Orders be amended to permit carry-over of a Bill by resolution of the House for an experimental period, but that no Bill should be carried over for more than one extra Session (paragraph 38).

    (h)  We recommend that, for the experimental period on carry-over, if a Bill is not completed or arrives from the Lords more than twelve months after its introduction, it should not be further proceeded with in the Commons unless a fresh programme motion, debatable for one and a half hours, has been passed (paragraph 39).

    (i)  We recommend that there should be collective consultations with other parties in the House on the broad shape of the legislative year, those Bills intended to be published in draft, those Bills intended to be carried over and which Bills are expected to be introduced in the Commons, including discussion on the likely dates of recesses and related matters such as Friday sittings and Opposition days (paragraph 44).

    (j)  We recommend that if carry-over is adopted by the House the longer timetable which it will permit should be used to provide more flexibility in programming motions. We further recommend that if the Government demonstrates this additional flexibility in programme motions, the Opposition should be willing to engage constructively in agreeing to such motions (paragraph 49).


    (k)  We recommend that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the House should sit at 11.30 a.m. for oral questions (paragraph 60).

    (l)  We recommend that main business should end on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7.00 pm. On Thursdays main business should end at 6.00 pm which would better enable Members to travel that evening to their constituencies. We recommend that sitting hours on Mondays remain as at present in order that Members have good time in which to travel down from their constituencies and that the same sitting hours should apply on the first day back after a recess if that should be a Tuesday or Wednesday (paragraph 63).

    (m)  We recommend that committees and Westminster Hall should not meet during Question Time or statements (paragraph 65).

    (n)  We recommend that the facilities of the House, such as the library and the catering services, should continue to be available in the evenings for Members (paragraph 66).

    (o)  We recommend that constituency work should take precedence on Fridays and the practice of Government motions on the adjournment on Fridays should be discontinued (paragraph 67).

    (p)  We recommend that Standing Orders be amended to permit the same freedom to the Speaker as other Members to be present in his constituency on Friday (paragraph 69).


    (q)  We recommend that the Commons calendar should be announced a year in advance in order that MPs can sensibly plan to make maximum use of time in their constituencies (paragraph 74).

    (r)  We recommend that an additional week for constituency work should be included in the first half of each year by being added to either the Easter or the Whit recess (paragraph 75).


    (s)  We endorse the following recommendations of the Procedure Committee:

      —  A reduction in the period of notice required for oral questions from ten to three sitting days.

      —  A sharp reduction in the number of oral questions accepted for printing for each day.

      —  A restriction of named day questions to a daily quota of five.

      —  The replacement of planted questions by formal written statements. (paragraph 79).

    (t)  We recommend that Private Notice Questions be renamed Urgent Questions (paragraph 81).

    (u)  We recommend that the full text of a statement should be made available to Members as soon as the Minister sits down or at the same time as a statement is given to the Press Gallery, whichever is the earlier (paragraph 85).

    (v)  We recommend that it should be the norm for backbench speeches to be limited to ten minutes, other than in the exceptional circumstances when there is no significant competition for the time available for debate (paragraph 87).

    (w)  We recommend that each Member should be allowed an additional minute for each of up to two interventions per speech (paragraph 88).

    (x)  We recommend that Members should be permitted to obtain a copy of their own speech from Hansard once it has been corrected (paragraph 90).

    (y)  We recommend that on occasion the allocation of time in the Chamber should be a half day, with a full day's debate still being allocated to a measure when it is justified by its controversy or the degree of interest in its provisions (paragraph 95).


    (z)  We recommend that in the rearrangement of sitting hours, the total hours for which Westminster Hall sits should not be reduced (paragraph 97).

    (aa)  We recommend that there should be a rota for Westminster Hall in which each Department is available to answer any topic within its brief on every alternate week (paragraph 98).

    (bb)  We recommend that for an experimental period there should be an occasional question session in Westminster Hall on cross-cutting issues to junior Ministers from different Departments (paragraph 99).


    (cc)  We recommend that the changes we propose on handling of legislation and scrutiny time be introduced in the next Session, and that the changes to sitting hours and the Commons calendar be introduced in January for the next calendar year (paragraph 100).

    (dd)  We recommend that when the House next considers the extension of [the innovations recommended by our predecessors which were introduced for an experimental period that expires with the end of this Session] that the arrangements for Westminster Hall and Thursday sittings are put on a permanent basis (paragraph 101).

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